The Epiphany gospel is a continuation of the Christmas story in Matthew’s prologue to his gospel (chapters 1-2). The prologue is a theological masterpiece in narrative form through which Matthew anticipates the major historical events he will present in his gospel to explain the significance of Jesus for us.
The names of Jesus are revealed: Messiah, King, Son of David, Son of Abraham, Emmanuel (God with us). As Son of Abraham, Jesus fulfills the divine promise that in Abraham’s seed “all the nations of the earth would be blessed” (Gn 22:18 and Mt 28:10). The miracle of the virginal conception heralds the beginning of the climactic end-time of sacred history. The gentile nations as foretold by the prophet Isaiah come to the New Zion with their treasures to praise the Lord. Jesus will be rejected by many, will suffer persecution and death, but will ultimately triumph through the Father’s providential care in the resurrection.
In today’s gospel reading, Matthew tells us that when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, magi from the East arrived in Jerusalem looking for the newborn king of the Jews. When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and asked the magi to bring him word of the child’s whereabouts so that he too could honor him. When the magi found the child with Mary, his mother, they offered their gifts in homage. Warned in a dream not to return to King Herod, they departed for their own country by another way.
The good news of Epiphany is that Jesus reveals the mystery of God to be self-giving love. Jesus is the epiphany of the invisible God in all the events of his life: as a helpless child lying in a manger, as a young man dying on a cross–the ultimate revelation that God’s glory is love. This feast reminds us that each Sunday’s liturgy with its gospel reading is an epiphany of the Lord to be reflected upon in prayerful study.
As in every offering of love, the Lord awaits the response of our hearts. Will it be that of King Herod who perceives it as a threat to his own autonomy and power? Will it be that of the magi who perceive the Lord’s offering of love as the fulfillment of the human quest for the ultimate meaning of life? Christina Rossetti in her lovely Epiphany poem “In the Bleak Mid-Winter” shows us the response that brings joy to the sacred heart of Jesus. “What can I give him poor as I am?/ If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb/ If I were a wise man I would do my part/ Yet what I can I give him Give my heart.”
The meaning of Epiphany would be incomplete if we focus our attention solely upon God’s self-revelation in the past as described in Sacred Scripture. God’s Epiphany is a present event–in the wonders of the universe and nature; in the events of our personal history and world history; in the works of science and technology, music, art and architecture; in the sacraments; in people. In our liturgy today we pray for the vision to recognize God’s epiphanies, and the grace to extend a grateful welcome.
Every person is also called upon to be an Epiphany of God just as Jesus in his humanity was an Epiphany of the divine mystery. Every person in the unique particularity of his or her life can reveal an aspect of God’s truth, goodness and beauty that otherwise would forever remain unknown. Today we also pray for the grace to be totally transparent so that God’s glory may be made visible through us, and that people might discover peace and joy in that glory.
Campion P. Gavaler, OSB
Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
January 6, 2013
A Walk with the Wise: A meditation on the Feast of Epiphany
There are so many wonderful details in the Epiphany story: the call of the Gentiles, the nations, and their enthusiastic response, the significance of the star they see, and the gifts they bring, the dramatic interaction with Herod and their ultimate rejection of him in favor Christ.
The Epiphany Revealed!
Caspar, Balthasar, Melchior. These “three kings of Orient are” found, complete with crowns and camels, in every nativity scene.
Yet if you look closely at the gospel account of the Magi (Mat 2:1-12), you won’t find these names. Actually there is no mention of how many Magi there were or that they were kings riding camel-back.
Solemnity of the Epiphany: The Journey
Something monumental was taking place. Pagans, magi, who studied stars and were convinced that stars told a story to men, saw a new star. They had never seen a new star before. Stars told them about the world. This new star was telling them that the world was being renewed. Great heros, great people had stars or were stars, or even constellations looking down on men. This new star had to belong to the greatest of people. It was looking down on any who would be willing to learn its message. The star was moving towards the west. So the magi set off from their lands in the East on a journey.
Come to the Light: The Readings for Epiphany
The Christmas season can sometimes seem to be just one joyful feast after another. We are scarcely past the glow from the Holy Family and Mary, Mother of God, when Epiphany is already upon us.
The word “Epiphany” comes from two Greek words: epi, “on, upon”; and phaino, “to appear, to shine.” Therefore, the “Epiphany” refers to the divinity of Jesus “shining upon” the earth, in other words, the manifestation of his divine nature.
A Day in the Life of the Church: A Meditation on How the Lord Still walks this Earth in His Mystical Body
Many Catholics seldom think past their own parish when the consider the Church. And yet the Catholic World is huge and quite vibrant:
1. 1.2 Billion Catholics in the World.
2. 412,236 Priests
3. 721,935 Religious Sisters
4. 221,055 Parishes
5. 92,847 Catholic Elementary Schools with 31 million students.
Biblical guidelines to Christian cheerfulness
Albert Camus (1913-1960) was a French philosopher of the existentialist school and a novelist of note who won the 1957 Nobel Prize for literature. Numbered among his philosophical works is a volume, published in 1942, called “The Myth of Sisyphus.” The title refers to a character in Greek mythology who is eternally condemned to roll a huge rock up a hill, see it roll back down and start all over again.
Reaching Out in Hope, From Her Mother’s Womb
In this video, Phoenix television station KTVK reports on a compelling picture of a baby reaching out from her mother’s womb to grasp a doctor’s hand during a C-section delivery.
The photo of the baby was taken by her father, Randy Atkins, while his wife, Alicia, was delivering their daughter with the assistance of medical staff at a Phoenix hospital.
Amazing Video of Physics Teacher Most Important Lesson on Love
This is just astoundingly beautiful. Great thanks to The New York Times for running this amazing video on this teacher and the great love he has for his disabled son. It’s 12 minutes long so I know that for some of you that’s something like 11 and a half minutes over your typical allowance for video. But please trust me that this is worth it.
Novena to St. Joseph
O glorious Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, to you we raise our hearts and hands to ask your powerful intercession in obtaining from the compassionate heart of Jesus all the helps and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special grace for which we now ask.
Yad Vashem Honors Cardinal Who Fought for Jewish Lives
The recent news that Cardinal Elia Dalla Costa has been recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations” by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial is a welcome, and a much-deserved, honor. Dalla Costa, the archbishop of Florence during World War II, “played a central role in the organization and operation of a widespread rescue network,” said Yad Vashem in its November announcement. He “recruited rescuers from among the clergy, supplied letters to his activists so that they could go to heads of monasteries and convents entreating them to shelter Jews, and sheltered Jews in his own palace.”
In Seeking Wise Counsel, Find Someone Who Has Suffered
Back in seminary, as we were coming close to ordination we were exhorted by the spiritual director of the Seminary to find a spiritual director in our diocese and to be faithful in meeting with him. I remember well being surprised at the main criteria we were told to look for. I expected to hear that he be orthodox, wise, prudent, and so forth. And I am sure our seminary director of spiritual formation presumed we knew that, for he did not list any of those as the main criteria. No he said something far different than I expected. He said, “In looking for a spiritual director I would counsel you, above all, to strive to find a priest who has suffered. Such a one will be a surer guide for you.”
New Year’s Resolution: Sanctify Your Time
The concept of sanctification of time is nothing new, and it is an idea that is found not only in Christianity but also within other religions.
In the Jewish faith it is an important concept. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once said, “Judaism is a religion of time, aiming at the sanctification of time.”
For Christians, the sanctification of time takes on a new meaning because we believe God not only created time, but also entered time. In a General Audience in 1997, Blessed John Paul II said that “with Jesus eternity has entered time.”
Work Out Your Salvation in Fear and Shoveling
I had to shovel snow the other day, and I’m still mad about it. I mean to say, I’m still reaping the benefits!
I have this theory, see. Everyone knows that shoveling is a wonderful, aerobic workout; but my theory is that shoveling is also the most complete and rigorous spiritual exercise you can perform. There is no lesson about life, no revelation about the soul that cannot be gained through shoveling. It’s practically designed to fight each one of the deadly sins in turn. For instance:
When you can’t forget the past.
Recently, I wrote that a key thing to working through being hurt is to forgive and forget. This is how God deals with our offenses against Him, therefore we are required to do the same. I assumed this was common knowledge.
But I was wrong! There was no problem with the forgive part, but the forget part seemed to cause quite a stir. I have to admit that this idea of forgiving and forgetting could be confusing. Perhaps I should have touched on the concept of resentment, because that seems to be the problem with understanding the concept of forgetting. When we harbor resentment, it causes harm to ourselves, it does nothing positive or productive, and it keeps us from healing and moving forward.
Peer Pressure and Lot’s Wife
If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement than for that town. –Matthew 10:14-15
Many commentators of the Bible in year’s past have stated that Lot’s wife was punished for desiring her old life. She was missing her friends, house, grieving for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Some commentators state that she died from a lack of faith. She had to look.
That Lot’s wife was instantly turned into a pillar of salt means that she lost her salvation.
I think she was taken up by what we call peer pressure. What do I mean?
Satan’s Code Words – Part 1
Ever since—well, ever since “the beginning”—Satan has been the consummate master of the half-truth, twisting God’s words for his own devices. Go back and read the story of the Fall in Genesis 3, and you’ll see what I mean. Satan says to Eve: “You certainly will not die [if you eat the fruit God has forbidden]! God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know good and evil.” This statement can be read as literally “true”:
“Can We Talk…and Talk and Talk and Talk?”:Satan’s Code Words – Part 2
In my last post, I discussed how Satan uses the words “assurance” and “security” to trick people into believing that God intended us to have 100% certainty about where we’ll spend eternity, and I argued that viewing Heaven as something we can have a lock on in this life is actually detrimental to our souls. In so arguing, however, I do not want to leave the impression that I believe there is nothing in the Christian life of which the individual believer can be sure. He may not be able to assert with absolute certainty that he’ll make it to Heaven (which is actually a good thing because it helps him to stay humble and “keep on keeping on”), but he can
Let’s Get On With Being Catholic
The 2012 national election is over, and the winners are those who support the legalized killing of innocent human beings, the destruction of traditional marriage, and the gross limitation of religious freedom. The victors include atheists and believers, and sadly among those believers are many who claim to be Catholics.
Hope for 2013: Embracing human nature
Peering into the abyss of biotechnology, I have often mused that the problem with much of what goes on in fertility clinics and laboratories of the world is a denial of human nature. The denial that living human organisms, regardless of how they are created, are indeed human beings. They are small and immature, but human beings none-the-less.
This denial of the nature of humanity can be seen in nearly all the moral problems in our society: from the denial of the humanity of the unborn, the sick and the disabled; to the denial of our need of an intact family unit with both a mother and a father; to the denial that sex is a procreative event; to the denial that the safest most loving place to begin our lives is in our mother’s womb, not in a laboratory; to the denial that the sex of your next child should be decided by God and not by you.
Rebuttals to arguments for same-sex marriage
Perhaps no issue is more nerve-wracking today than same-sex marriage. It’s a magnet for controversy, evoking strong reactions from those on either side of the debate. But beneath all the fiery passion and rhetoric, there are real arguments to evaluate. In this article, we’ll examine the 10 most common ones made in favor of same-sex marriage, many of which you’ve probably heard before. By pointing out the flaws, we’ll show how each argument ultimately comes up short.